511.3 B 1/68

The Secretary General of the League of Nations (Drummond) to the Secretary of State

Sir: The following Resolution was adopted by the Assembly of the League of Nations on December 14th, 1920, on the proposition of the Sixth Committee of the Assembly:

“1. The Committee, having received a report of Sir Cecil Hurst77 on the Convention for the Control of the Trade in Arms and Ammunition which was signed at Saint-Germain on September 10th, 1919, by the United States of America, Belgium, Bolivia, the British Empire, China, Cuba, Equador, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Fiji [sic], Italy, Japan, and other Powers, and being greatly impressed by the value of this Convention as an instrument of civilisation, and by the evils which would ensue from its non-observance, are anxious that the signatory Powers should proceed without delay to ratification and to the establishment of the International Office of Control contemplated by the Convention.

“2. The Committee note that the signatory Governments declared in a Protocol that it was contrary to the intention of the High Contracting Parties and to the spirit of this Convention that, pending the coming into force of the Convention, a Contracting Party should adopt any measure which is contrary to its provisions.

“3. The Committee note, however, that it has not been possible for the Powers to give full effect to their Protocol, and that up to the present time the Convention of Saint-Germain has had no effect save upon the traffic in arms to the certain special areas specified in the Convention.

“The Committee would therefore urge that the Assembly should declare its high sense of the gain to civilisation which would ensue from a strict control of this traffic, and should invite the Council to urge upon all Governments without delay (sic) speedy ratification of, or adhesion to, the Convention.”

The Council of the League of Nations is in complete agreement with the Assembly as to the importance of securing the ratification of the Arms Traffic Convention at the earliest possible date.

The Council considers that the best method of giving effect to the Resolution of the Assembly is to bring it to the notice of all Governments [Page 544] signatories of the Convention, urging that it should be ratified at the earliest possible date and suggesting that, should any Government consider it necessary, its ratification might be accompanied by the reserve that it should not take effect until other signatory Powers have also ratified.

I therefore have the honour to enquire, in the name of the Council, whether the United States Government is prepared to ratify the Convention, and if so, whether it desires to make the reservation referred to above. The Council would highly appreciate an early reply to this enquiry.

A similar letter has been sent to Governments not signatories of the Convention, asking them whether they would be prepared to sign and to ratify the Convention on the same conditions.

I have [etc.]

Eric Drummond
  1. Legal Adviser to the British Foreign Office.